St. Paul, MN — October 26, 2003 — Eleven properties as varied as a barn museum in Montevideo to the Cathedral of St. Paul have been selected by the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota as recipients of the organization’s 2003 Preservation Awards. Properties receiving the awards, which have been presented for 18 years, will be showcased at the group’s annual meeting on November 7 at the Union Depot in St. Paul.
The objective of the statewide program is to recognize properties that exemplify the best work in preservation, restoration and adaptive reuse. Consideration is also given for the project’s significance and local impact. “Our goal is to encourage projects that enhance a community’s fabric from a historical perspective,” noted Preservation Alliance Chair Jack Manley.
Honorees were selected from nominations submitted by citizens, preservation groups, historical societies, developers and architects from across the state. Additionally, the Preservation Alliance honors a Minnesota bed and breakfast facility that exemplifies the highest preservation standards.
The eleven honorees for 2003 are:
Commercial House Apartments
Adaptive Reuse – The Commercial House was constructed in 1874 and originally served as a railroad hotel in this southeastern Minnesota community. The building witnessed major remodeling in 1882 and 1916. In 2001 it was named to the National Register of Historic Places. As a tax delinquent property in the late 1990’s the building was taken over by the city of Spring Valley which sought to have it demolished and replaced with a new 12-plex housing unit. The process of converting the building into eleven housing units began in 1999 after a local development group, Allman & Associates, purchased it. Today Commercial House Apartments serves not only the community’s low-income housing needs, but it has provided a cornerstone for other downtown preservation efforts.
Bed & Breakfast Award – Charles William Hartman, a local merchant and county auditor purchased five lots and began construction on what is now Henderson House in 1874. His wife, Henrietta Poehler, whose family had constructed several buildings featuring the style in the community, probably influenced the building’s Italianate style. The house remained in the Hartman and Poehler families until 1941. Jeffrey DuCharme, the home’s current owner, began restoring the property and updating mechanical systems in 1994. The facility opened for business two years later and features four guest rooms overlooking the scenic Minnesota River Valley.
Cathedral of St. Paul
Restoration – After nearly ten years of planning and restoration, the massive job of replacing the structure’s nearly 300-foot tall domed roof, was completed in October 2002. In addition to replacing thousands of copper roof plates the project also restored the building’s Cold Spring granite exterior walls, created dramatic exterior lighting, enhanced landscaping and modernized mechanical systems throughout the 89-year old Cathedral that was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. McGough Construction served as general contractor and Miller Dunwiddie Architects served as architects. The project client was the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
Olof Swensson Farm Barn Museum
Restoration – The Swensson Barn represents the largest museum-quality barn restoration in the state’s history. The building has served as a museum for the Chippewa County Historical Society since it was bequeathed to the organization in 1967. The building’s deteriorating condition led the group to undertake a $266,000 public and private fund raising program in 2000 to restore its structural stability and historical integrity. Today the barn, which features a granite foundation and notched post and beam construction fastened with wooden pegs and square nails, is the only barn still in its original condition, open to the public and on the National Register of Historic Places in Minnesota. The project architect is Claybaugh Preservation Architects, Taylors Falls.
Adaptive Reuse - In 1877 Sheldon Smith constructed a farmhouse and several outbuildings on property adjacent to a newly constructed line of the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railroad. Over the years the building served as a boarding house for travelers and a private residence. In 1981 the city of Eden Prairie purchased the property with the goal of restoring it’s original Victorian design while creating self-sustaining commercial viability. In addition to restoration the home’s site has been extensively landscaped in a manner that is sensitive to its historic design. MacDonald and Mack Architects Ltd. served as project architects. Close Landscape Architecture and Molly Gilbertson Interior Design also worked on the project.
Kemp Insurance and Real Estate
Restoration Award – Lake City businessman Bob Kemp purchased this downtown building that had been constructed in the late 1880’s and housed a dry goods company owned by his great grandfather. In recent years, it had been remodeled with a metal-siding front displaying the auto parts store sign that occupied it. Kemp chose to bring the building back to the storefront image of his great grandfather’s era to house his real estate and insurance business.
Nicholas Lahr Building
Restoration Award – The Nicholas Lahr Building was constructed in 1887 and comprised one of five structures in the Lahr Block in downtown St. Cloud. Lahr was a blacksmith who built plows pulled by teams of oxen on area farms. Today the building serves office and retail functions and is the largest commercial structure in the St. Cloud Historic Commercial District. Restoration work was completed in 2002. The building is owned by Thomas Grones.
Pierre Bottineau Library
Adaptive Reuse – The Pierre Bottineau Library began life as two buildings that were part of the Grain Belt Brewery complex in northeast Minneapolis. The Wagon Shed, constructed in 1893, and the Millwright Shop, in 1913, were combined to create the 12,355 square foot state-of-the-art library. Additional features of this project include extensive landscaping including the construction of a fountain that highlights the brewery’s icehouse foundation. RSP Architects Ltd. designed the project for the Minneapolis Public Library Board of Trustees.
Mill City Museum
Adaptive Reuse – Originally built in 1878, the former Washburn Crosby A Mill housed a thriving milling business until the Great Depression. The building sat vacant along the Minneapolis riverfront for six decades until it was nearly destroyed by fire in 1991. Today it stands as a remarkable adaptive reuse housing a Minnesota Historical Society museum that provides hands-on experiences and an interpretive center focusing on the city’s historic milling and lumber industries. The museum is housed in ruins remaining from the 1991 fire. The architectural firm Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle Ltd. designed the project for Saint Anthony Falls Heritage Center.
Mill Ruins Park
Archeology Award – This Mississippi Riverfront Park in downtown Minneapolis has been created out of the foundations left by eleven mills and the ruins of infrastructures employed to support them. The park is owned and operated by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB). The park as a whole was designed by URS Corporation. The award was jointly granted to MacDonald & Mack Architects and the MPRB for the treatment of the historic fabric. The park provides visitors both a visual and walk through experience of what the riverfront was like from the 1880s to the 1930s when the world’s milling industry was focused at Saint Anthony Falls. The project involved significant excavation and stabilization to create the experience.
Restoration Award – Swan Jewelry is housed in a building that was originally constructed in 1872 by Crane Brothers, a leading Lake City jeweler. Ten years later the building was reconstructed following a fire and has served as a jewelry store throughout its history. Today the building features its original façade and the painted signage that noted its commercial use as a watch, clock and jewelry store 131 years ago. The restoration replaced metal siding and a metal canopy that had given the historic structure a modern look several decades ago. Steve Swan is the building owner.